I always have a lot to celebrate on Mother’s Day. My mother, 88 and still funny and sharp, is a woman I’d consider myself lucky to even know, much less to claim as mother. I’ve got four older sisters who mothered me each in their own way, a wonderful mother-in-law, and an aunt-in-law I love as my own.
That’s a lot of mothers. I’ve collected even more poems about mothers. I posted a few around town to celebrate and to give tribute to everyone who’s opened their heart to mother another human.
I started at a florist, where I left Julia Kasdorf’s poem, “What I Learned From My Mother.”
Because the beautiful last lines are a little blurred in the photograph, I’ll highlight them here.
Like a doctor, I learned to create
from another’s suffering my own usefulness, and once
you know how to do this, you can never refuse.
To every house you enter, you must offer
healing, a chocolate cake you baked yourself,
the blessing of your voice, your chaste touch.
A cemetery (a favorite poem-elfing spot) seemed like a good spot for Ron Padgett’s “The Best Thing I Did.”
Truer words were never written:
The best thing I did
for my mother
was to outlive her
In the tiny dressing room of Nordstrom Rack, I left two poems with a similar theme, Walter de la Mare’s “Full Circle,” and Anna Kamienska’s “Mother and Me.”
I find de la Mare’s poem terrifying and sweet at once.
Kamienska’s poem is simple and beautiful:
is always silence.
For mothering that never gets acknowledged, I left Maggie Anderson’s “Sonnet for Her Labor” in a discounted Mother’s Day card bin:
Laurel Mountain must not have had a Hallmark store.
Another mother who’s lived a hard life is given a voice in Langston Hughes’ “Mother to Son.” I left the poem in the football stands of a local high school, to offer a little encouragement to any youngster overwhelmed by difficulties.
I’ve loved this poem for so long. I hope it finds its way to someone who needs it.
Happy Mother’s Day! Go forth and mother.